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Southampton 0 v 0 West Ham United
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 11th September 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V West Ham United The Preview
Friday, 10th Sep 2021 10:20

Saints host the Hammers hoping to earn the first win of the Premier League season and continue the progress made since the opening day defeat to Everton, but they do have injury issues.

Saints will be without 4 players for the visit of West Ham on Saturday, but the good news are that only two of them could have normally expected to play a part, Theo Walcott joins Stuart Armstrong in the treatment room alongside long term absentee Will Smallbone.

Thierry Small recently signed from Chelsea is not yet match fit.

Saints have looked good in part in all three of their opening Premier League fixtures, but the truth is they have failed to win any of them due to poor defending and that is where Ralph Hasenhuttl has to sort out the issue.

In goal I expect Alex McCarthy to continue, although he was dire in the opening two fixtures he looked better at Newcastle so I would be highly surprised if he was dropped for this one.

But the back line is really where Ralph needs to sort out the problem, put bluntly we have run around like headless chickens in all three games and we rely heavily on luck to make sure we aren't punished for slack play.

The first question is whether Ralph goes with a back 3 as he did in the second half against Manchester United or his usual back 4.

I would suspect that it will be the standard back four.

If that is the case then if we use the thoughts of the fans to predict the back four then most would say that he needs to put square pegs in round holes and play Kyle Walker Peters at right back, Jan Bednarek and Mohamed Salisu in the centre and Romain Peraud at left back. This would mean pushing Tino Livramento into the right midfield spot.

Most would agree this would be our strongest back line, Jack Stephens has done ok in the opening three games, but only ok and he is not consistent enough over 90 minutes to be ahead of the other options in the centre of defence.

Our new signing from Torino Lyanco could be in the running, but I suspect that at best he will be on the bench, in fact I would be surprised for him to be there, in many respects he was a strange signing, a player who at 24 was not first choice for Torino and for his age he doesn't have great experience, the question is firstly is he good enough and secondly is his English good enough ?

I would suspect that he needs a little more time to adapt before he comes into the side.

Ralph has to change the side at the back, as I said we have been ok for long periods of the games so far, but lapses have cost us dearly, 6 goals shipped in 3 games is not good enough.

In midfield as mentioned I would like to see Livramento employed to give us pace both up and down the line, I feel that he could form a great partnership with KWP on that side.

In the centre assuming they are fit there are only two choices James Ward Prowse and Oriol Romeu.

The next issue is on the left of the midfield, we have options, Moussa Djenepo has been good in the games he has played, but he has lacked an end product, at time he has been breathtaking in beating his man but he just hasn't delivered the final ball be it a cross or pass or an attempt on goal.

At Newcastle Nathan Redmond came off the bench and changed the game, many still didn't give him the credit, but those who were there saw him take on his man and both goals came from his ball into the box, a superb cross for Moi Elyounoussi for the first and then a through ball for Adam Armstrong who was brought down for the penalty.

Football is about who produces the goods and Nathan Redmond produced them at Newcastle twice and you don't get too many people do that in a game.

A third option could be the aforementioned Moi Elyounoussi, he has looked ok in the opening games but there is still a way to go before he convinces me he will become a serious contender for a regular place, but he has made a decent start in trying to prove that this season.

A fourth choice could be Nathan Tella, although I think Ralph sees him as more an attacking option up front at present.

Up front some have suggested that Armando Broja replace Che Adams based on a couple of goals against Newport and a goal for Albania, I think Broja will play a major part this season, possibly a major part in this game, but he shouldn't start ahead of Adams at present.

Adams is forming a decent partnership with Adam Armstrong that has seen them link up well and produce goals, we need to nurture that and make Broja push them for his place.

The good news is that this season I can talk about viable options, experienced options and even changes of formation, for the second half of last season I was talking about how many experienced pros we could actually put out due to injury etc and then typing names I had never heard of to go on the bench etc.

So that bodes well for the rest of the season, but we cannot avoid the issue that we still havent sorted out the centre of defence and that needs to be done and fast, it almost like last season cost us a point at Newcastle and nothing has changed at least not yet.

Photo: Action Images

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KriSaint added 10:55 - Sep 10
Livramento was benched for the England U21 national team, and I think it is his time to rotate him out on the bench vs West Ham - meaning KWP (one of the best right backs outside the England senior squad) starts in his best position. Perraud got a knock vs Man.U. but has had a small break, and I'd like to see him play left back.
Central defence: Jan B (good game for Poland vs England) + Salisu
Central midfield: Oriol + JWP. (I'd like to see Oriol play his first good game of the season).
No. 10s: Elyounouissi + Djenepo
Strikers: A & A
Keeper: McCarthy

Bench: FF, Lyanco, Diallo, Tella, Redmond, Broja, Stephens

stmichael added 11:09 - Sep 10
Salisu is the biggest culprit for errors so far.
I would still play him Saturday but if Bednarek is to come back it should be for him..

Peterx added 11:28 - Sep 10
I think we should keep on with Djenepo and Elynoussi and give them a run, we cant chop and change the whole time.

JoeEgg added 12:23 - Sep 10
So here we are after another frustrating international break with some more than useful opponents under an experienced and highly respected manager. Bit it is looking lookings as if our starting line up isn't going to be very different from the one that finished last season with those dismal and disheartening performances. The difference will be the options available during the game for our manager
For me this game is as much about Moyes v Our Ralph, as it is about the quality of our own players and how many mistakes they can make in 90 minutes. We will still concede goals needlessly and I am not convinced that we will ever score enough goals with just the Armstrong/Adams partnership, but I am sure that there is promise everywhere else in the squad. I just hope Thierry Small doesn't do a Salisu and remain 'unavcailable' until next summer!
So for me its a question now of how well Ralph selects, uses and replaces his players to maximum effect, and please please please, to win some matches! David Moyes knows his business and his players. He will be a wily opponent and I fear that this could be the crucial factor this weekend!

highfield49 added 12:55 - Sep 10
I guess it was predictable that the defence was the scapegoat again, at least there was no mention of an ageing central defender coming to the rescue. The regular pattern for me is not only that the defence giving away easy goals but also our forward players dominating large parts of the game without finding the net. Broja and Tella have been bench warming so far and, unless other players can score at least a couple of goals in the first half, they should be given upwards of 30 minutes game time tomorrow. By all means look at defensive errors but don't forget that scoring more than the opposition always gets three points.

halftimeorange added 13:50 - Sep 10
Saints always face one player that can and does bully our defence. Richarlison for Everton, Saint-Maximin for Newscastle and now, our old adversary, Antonio. Some man marking is necessary. But will Ralph detail someone to do it - I wonder.

DellBoyWally added 15:38 - Sep 10
McCarthy (sadly!)
KWP: Badnarek: Salisu (probably) Peraud
Livramento: Romeo; JWP; Tella
AA: Broja

3 points thank you very much

Colburn added 16:44 - Sep 10
Definitely have to start with Redmond on the bench if you are more concerned by conceding goals than you are scoring them.. Because Redmond doesn't defend from the front and bottles challenges. Djenepo doesn't. As one of Redmonds biggest and fairest critics, I gave him much credit last week, so you're comments on him not getting fair praise are as inaccurate as your judgements on Stephens..
So make up your mind Nick.. Do you want us to focus more on scoring more than the opposition or focus more on stopping them. You always blame our defensive frailties yet constantly call for a player who gives nothing defensively and all 11 need to be able to defend, simple as that.. You can't have it both ways.. Still..

Boris1977 added 18:47 - Sep 10
The pre match preview is as much as a template as the match reports over the last 3 seasons. The same questions getting asked pre match and the same critique post match.

Who really knows what Ralph is going to do tomorrow, or any other match day selection?

We need to score at least 1 goal to get a point, at least 2 to avoid defeat and 3 to have a chance of 3 PTS. Bednerak looked great on Wednesday against England reading the game well and making important interceptions (although he blocked the keepers view for Kane's goal), so he should be a first choice for a CB berth.

Will we beat a west ham team which seems pretty settled and on the front foot? Of course not. We'll probably concede 3 and read the same old critique on Sunday. But I didn't support saints as a kid to win and so whatever happens is in the lap of the gods.....or Ralph. But I don't believe in God do guess I'll have to believe in the great but flawed Ralph.


felly1 added 21:25 - Sep 10
It really doesn't bother me who gets picked for the team tomorrow, thankfully that's down to our highly paid experienced manager.
A win would be great , a draw ok . We are playing another team who on paper have spent more money, are in better form and have a bit more quality than us so it's going to be tough.


Block8 added 21:43 - Sep 10
Not entirely sure who I'd select at the back but we'll need some pace & strength to combat Antonio. He is the focal point of their attack and long ball counter & has bullied us every time we play them, when we press high as are vulnerable and need to try to thwart him out muscling us. So probably Salisu for his pace with Jack & Jan in a back three!

redwight added 11:24 - Sep 11
Bednarek must start. Lord knows why he hasn't so far.
Would much prefer to see square pegs in square holes Nick. Sorry to be pedantic!

JoeEgg added 14:43 - Sep 11
So the team to play West Ham is announced. Personally I cant believe Ralph's selections but presumably he knows better than I do. I cant see that he learns anything from one game to the next. Come to think of it I think the talent sitting on the bench would probably provide keener opposition for West Ham than the players he has selected! But what do I know?!!

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